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Indiana man receives state’s first breathing lung transplant

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By Tanae Howard

If you watch hospital shows when they're transporting organs, they carry them chilled in something like an igloo. But now thanks to the TransMedics Organ Care System an Indiana man received new lungs that were still functioning while doctors transported them from out of state.

IU Health is taking part in a clinical trial to test out the new technology that took more than a decade to make.

Sixty-three-year-old Damon Bradtmueller was the first volunteer in the trial who was chosen to receive the breathing lung transplant.

"I feel good. Sore, but good," said Bradtmueller, who suffers from an autoimmune disease that attacked his lungs. He had been on the transplant list since February.

IU health transplant surgeon Dr. I-wen Wang says this new technology allows the lungs to stay active instead of going through the freezing and thawing process.

"We then place the lungs instead of in a cooler we place it on this device. The device has a ventilator so it allows the lungs to breathe like it normally would," said Wang.

Although doctors are early on in the study they have high hopes for this method.

"l think all of us who participate in this study believe this can help us improve the quality of lungs that we're getting for our transplant patients and that better quality of lungs I think better outcomes. They'll live better and survive longer," said Wang.

Going forward Bradtmueller no longer needs to use an oxygen tank. He's ready to fully enjoy his retirement and his new lungs.

"I'm ready to get back to having fun and going to Colts games, volunteering, just enjoying life."